10 Best Things Heard During the Marathon

The New York City Marathon came back in a flash this past Sunday, November 4 after being cancelled last year due to that bitch Sandy.

My girl Patty Pion, 3 time marathoner, at the finish line

My girl Patty Pion, 3 time marathoner, at the finish line

I posted up on Bedford Avenue at Mile 11 to cheer on several friends. The conversations happening around me, were memorable, indeed. Plus, I’m an excellent eavesdropper, thus the list below. You’re at somewhat of a disadvantage not being able to hear the actual voices, but I think you’ll get a laugh out of these gems anyway.

1. 

Girl 1: What do you think they’re listening too?
Girl 2: Hip hop. Some really cheesy hip hop.
Girl 3: Or, Beyoncé.

2.

Girl 1: Who are we looking for?
Girl 2: Her name is Carlie. She has short blonde hair. She’s a lesbian.
Girl 1: OMG, then why haven’t I met her?

3.

Girl: These people are amazing. All that training! Look he’s in a wheelchair. <Pause> I feel teeeeerrible about myself.

4.

Man scampers across the street clutching a small table.
Girl: He totally just got that from the flea market.

5.

Little Kid: Cookie Monster!!
Runner dressed as Oscar the Grouch: NO, I’m not Cookie Monster. He’s blue. I’m green.

6.

Guy: I really should just run down the block or something.

7.

Man with a CitiBike walks it across Bedford Ave. cutting runners off.
Angry Man: Get off the f**king course. Angry mob scene ensues, supervised by amused NYPD officers.

8.

Fashion girl:  OMG! Amazing shorts! (She said this three times).

9.

Girl 1: Holds out hand to high five a runner.
Girl 2: OMG, he totally wanted that!

10.

Girl: Aww, she runs so pretty.

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Why I’m NOT Sad Even Though I’m Single on Valentine’s Day

It seems that everyone thinks I should be sad on Valentine’s Day, as if it’s a natural state for a single woman. My email box has been filled, not only with reminders to buy a gift or to book a table for this eventful day (I’m sure that yours have been too). No, there’s more. These are the subject lines I’ve been bombarded with over the past few weeks:

  • Sick of Valentine’s Day? Here’s How to Get Even with Cupid
  • No Valentine? Find The Right Man Now
  • Don’t miss NYC’s LARGEST Anti-Valentine Singles Party…15 years running!
  • My Best Valentine’s Offer Yet – A Lifetime of Love
  • Oh no! Lamenting on Valentine’s Day
  • How I’ve Helped Women Find Real Love After 50

You might be thinking that I’m on the wrong email lists. And you’re right. Yet the question remains, why does everyone assume that single people are pitifully sad because it’s Valentine’s Day? Like we’re destined to put on our gray sweatpants, throw our hair into a messy ponytail, grab a pint of ice cream and a box of tissue and sit in the corner until we rock ourselves to sleep. Why ARE some single people sad sacks on Valentine’s Day? I’m surprised at the number of singles who spend the day feeling sorry for themselves (maybe that’s why people assume it’s all of us), or worse, angry.

When the bouquets begin to show up at work on Valentine’s Day and everyone huddles around oooing and aahing. “Four for you, Glen Coco! You go Glen Coco!”* Do I feel something? Of course! Despite my mother’s argument that black women don’t like flowers (her thought, if you’ve got $75 to spend, don’t send something that dies) — I LOVE flowers. They’re beautiful. They smell great, what’s not to love?

Yet, as you’re giggling and clipping those long stems, walking around a bit more than you really need to, I’m thinking about the time you told me the sender, your beloved, ate your last Jenny Craig cheesecake — the dessert you’d been thinking about all day as you ate your cardboard, flavorless food — and any longing to be in your place wisps away faster than a $200 size 38 Louboutin platform heels at the Barney’s Sample Sale (in it’s last year for women, quelle horror!).

There’s not one married woman whose life I’d rather have than my own. Despite my extreme fandom, NOT even Beyonce. I could have traded with her for a good long while – smart, uber talented, beautiful. Her voice is a little like Lurch’s sister trying to sound sexy, but I figured I could pay someone to correct that. But then, she got a ring on it and any desire I had to be Beyonce abruptly ended. Can you imagine rolling over in your bed and seeing Jay-Z sharing your pillow? It’d be like waking up to a camel. And beyond that, given his past, I’d be scared to know what skeletons are stuffed in his closet and would fear whether I’d ever be joining them if we disagreed. Plus he seems mopey. So, no, not even Beyonce.

Isn’t the point of Valentine’s Day to acknowledge your love for people? That love can be from people all around you. I want to see and feel — and most importantly recognize — that affection all the time – all year long. PLUS, it includes love for yourself. To me that means IF you’re going to stay in, put on your favorite pretty lounging items (seriously ladies, I can’t with the sweats. Where are you even finding those schlubby things?), order in your favorite food, pop open your favorite bottle of wine or mix up your favorite cocktail and watch your favorite show or read your favorite book. Sounds like a better plan to me. So thank you very much, but I’m not going to spend Valentine’s Day at an anti-Valentine’s Day Party or figuring out how that woman can find me love after 50.

I’ll be at LINCOLN CENTER at New York Fashion Week. That’s right, I’m in the tents (or the stage, really), baby!!!! Loving fashion all these years has finally paid off! I will be feeling love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient  consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.** And it’s hard to imagine the relationship getting any better. xoxo

*Mean Girls reference, of course.

**Sex and the City, final episode.

Straight men, I put the footnotes in just for you.

Grammar Police Need Not Report for Duty

Grammar police badge

It’s definitely related to the crowd that I run with. First, I majored in English, next Technical Communication. And then, I had the nerve to follow that up with various careers related to communication. As a result, I’ve developed a sometimes persnickety, but always joyfully opinionated circle of friends. However, there are an inordinate number of people on my Facebook Newsfeed who complain about bad grammar. And I need it to stop.

I can relate to your  almost physical reaction to bad grammar, but can you GET OVER IT already!?

I used to be much better at grammar, spelling and punctuation. I rarely misspelled similar sounding words (their instead of there, etc.). My spelling was on point and every punctuation mark resided in the sentence exactly where it was supposed to. Now, I find that it’s not so perfect anymore. It bothers me somewhat, but I got things to do [sic]. I propose that there are legitimate reasons when the grammar police need to sit their arses down. I submit these examples for consideration.

The offender is communicating too much, too quickly or their mutli-tasking has gotten out of hand. You’re not living that life and can’t relate? How are things back in ’94? Between six email addresses (and that’s not even counting the “dating” email address), three blogs, social media, text messaging and business-related communication, I’m churning out more content than ever. Most of us are! With the sheer number of words, some mistakes are going to creep in.

I am rather dumbfounded when people complain that no one communicates anymore and that our society is forgetting how to talk to each other. It begs the question, what society are they living in? I interact with more people than ever! Even before leaving my bed in the morning, I’ve already communicated with at least 10 people (and I’m not talking about bed partners). By the time I’ve walked the dog and had Starbucks, that number has climbed to easily 30 people. Add in a workout or a stop at the dog run and I’ve interacted with more people than I had in my first pre-school. I don’t believe that back in the day, people talked to 30 people over the course of their entire day. Yes, social media is making us communicate differently. It’s called evolution. Please come along with us lest you be turned into a fossil fuel.

The offender is, good god, human and made a mistake. Personally, I have given up striving for perfection in things that, in the end, don’t really matter. I suspect that anyone who’s ever worked for me is calling a party foul right now. You might even be flashing back to an episode where I asked you to redo something or got mad because of a mistake. Maybe I even made you miss your furniture delivery or dinner with friends or a yoga class due to extra work. I know, I know, I’m meticulous and expect everyone else to be, too. But that’s for work. I think you should do whatever it takes to provide polished and high-quality communication that maintains your professional brand. 

An email to a friend — I’m not going to labor over it. They are a friend, afterall. They know what I meant to type and they certainly noticed the 3 AM timestamp on the email.

The offender was typing on a mobile device. I find that I’m not as accurate when using my iPad, iPhone or blackberry (may it rest in peace). These devices allow us to do everything on-the-go, which is beyond lovely. Yet between autocorrect, fumbling fingers, wet nails from a fresh manicure, the small screen and unpredictable apps, chances are, mistakes are going to slip in.

The offender is using slang. “You don’t know who the ef I is? [sic]” “Where you at? [sic],”  “Where they do that at? [sic]” — and similar phrases are all perfectly understandable and exempt from grammar rules. What’s more, using these phrases doesn’t automatically make the person stupid. It does put them in the running though.

Bringing Sassy Black Back

Have you noticed that commercials these days are featuring more than their share of sassy-talking black women? It’s like there’s a Willona School of Acting that’s churning out the neck-swiveling, hmmmm-mmmm-talking, frying, cleaning, broad-hipped, asexual black woman to save the day. Pair her with an idiot husband, some silent children or a clueless salesperson and you’ve got a commercial.

There’s the Pine Sol lady. She’s been at it a long time and at least she has natural hair and is not a caricature. But that line, “That’s the power of Pine Sol, baby.” Ugh. And now, I’m pretty sure I spotted her in another brand’s commercial, this time joined by a gum-smacking friend.

Then we’ve got the Popeye’s fried chicken lady – Annie the Chicken Queen. She, by far, irks me the most. That terribly done fake accent. The shilling of fried food –chicken no less. The sweet tea and Leroy, the husband she yells at when convenient. There’s even a parody of Ms. Annie.

Swiffer got in on the act with a sassy mama saying, “Imma find out” and sashaying out of the room after the line “Are you a cool mom?” Momtrocious.

Then, there’s the deluge of Wal-Mart commercials with sistas out there saving money at America’s most tasteless store.

I realize I’m seeing targeted ads based on what I’m watching (Damn you Housewives of Atlanta!). Kind of like the Saturday nights I decide to stay in and all the ads have those abused pets that make me cry and then I salivate over the pizza and ice cream commercials until the Weight Watchers commercials and guilt show up.

When it comes to commercials, there are few alternatives, I realize. I acknowledge that it’s a good thing to have diversity on television. Yet, in general, all women are stereotyped in commercials (and all men are characterized as clueless –you all should be mad, too!).

On that front, Cascade entertains us with an ad with a woman at another sister’s house about to get into an argument about filthy dishes. The Cascade Kitchen Counselor shows up just in time. Seriously? Cascade is trying to perpetuate that women judge our worthiness over our housecleaning skills? Young women know that our value isn’t placed on sparkling windows or dishes. Especially when that task can be so easily outsourced. Instead, we judge each other’s shoes, child-rearing skills, husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends, vacations and careers. What’s next, they’ll suggest that women want vacuums for Christmas?

Hmmmm mmmmm.

Ef You DSW!!

For a few years now, DSW has had commercials featuring stylish women breezing through their cities looking fantastic and being stopped by someone who says “Where’d you get those shoes.” And then this fashion icon answers, “DSW.”

And now, Sears has rehashed this strategy. Again, said woman is moving through her life — at work, being seated at a restauant, boarding a plane, when someone asks where she got something. She answers, somewhat sheepishly, “Sears.” (You should be sheepish, what did you do, go back to 1864 and order from their catalog?)

I’m calling bullshit on this. Just like it’s not okay to have dripping wet hair on the subway, it is not okay to ask strangers where they bought something.

Here’s why:

  • It can be judgemental — the Sears woman feared judgement so that was well played, Sears. The other judgement is when you answer and people respond that said store or said item is too expensive and proceed to try to make you feel like a fool. They might even say something ridiculous like, there’s no difference between the designer stuff and what they find at the dollar store (if you really don’t see a difference, then you’re shopping in the right place, hon). And although this is acceptable hazing, the turnabout is not true. What if you told me you shop at TJ Maxx and I told you their stuff is so cheap I’m surprised it doesn’t go up in flames on a hot summer day? Or, what if I said Old Navy is called old because even their new clothes only have one wear left in them? I would be considered just plain evil. And rightly so. It’s okay to call someone on perceived extravagance. Just not someone’s tendency to buy cheap, shakeadag (made up word) clothes as my Aunt Daisy used to call them.
  • It can be presumptuous. Yesterday, I’m rocking a pretty fabulous new red lipstick that I discovered (and then later, unknowingly, my sister gifted it to me at Christmas which tells you it’s fire!) I appreciate compliments. Don’t we all? Saying, “Great color!” as you breeze by is totally acceptable. Stopping me and asking me, “What is that, MAC?” So not acceptable. Why do you assume it’s MAC? I know that brown girls flock to the MAC counter like minimally dressed teenaged girls flock to Lady Gaga concerts. But we can wear more than MAC, thank you very much! I was loyal to Diva, but that was back in 1998. Yet still, people are always trying to put me in MAC! No lie, no lieeeeee. I’ve even been at the Laura Mercier counter and when I asked for a product, the associate clarified whether I wanted it from MAC which was located clear across the store.
  • Find your own amazing — Why should I do all the work for you? Just like Drake said about Kobe’s wife, “You wasn’t with me when we was shootin’ in the gym.”  Put in the work. I’ve gone outlet shopping numerous times and when I arrive at the checkout with my find, the sales girls gather around the counter and ask where I found it. They are the ones putting the items in the bins! If they managed to overlook a pink satin Louboutin evening bag with a chain strap — and a ridiculous markdown, I mean ridiculous like someone didn’t realize the brand — they don’t belong in retail.
  • If you’re a real fashionista, you should already know — There are telltale signs for brands. The cap toe, the tartan pattern, the Tribute style or enormous patent bow; it’s unmistakable which brand it is. You shouldn’t have to ask.

Just something to keep in mind when you’re out and about and see something you admire. Sneak a picture and investigate later, look for labels or even describe the item in a Google search (It has worked for me!). I never ask people where they got something. And if necessary, I send a friend to ask for me.

And Veuve Ran Through the Streets (with Photographic Evidence!)

I was tricked into living in my neighborhood. First, there was the broker’s confusion on the difference between Wyckoff Street (in a neighborhood I deemed yes) and Wyckoff Avenue (in a neighborhood I never heard of or desired to visit). Yet, the loft apartment on Wyckoff Avenue was amazing and there was zero walking distance to the train. The two clinchers that led me to buy it (not counting the apartment’s amenities) — the broker’s threat that he’d shown me all the available apartments I could afford and his next suggestion was New Jersey. And, his lie that the apartment was in East Williamsburg.

Since all the publications that mattered (New York magazine and the New York Times, naturally) deemed East Williamsburg the “next big thing,” I kept looking for evidence of this “big thing. I didn’t see it. Not helpful that the apartment is actually in Bushwick, a fact that even I lied about.

Fast forward six years and I finally have some evidence that change is underway, and not just the fashion.

Signs That Your Neighborhood May Have Changed:

1. On New Year’s Day, you find Veuve Clicquot bottles in the gutters.

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2. The dogs at the dog park all have on outfits.

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3. Even the big dogs.

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4. A Puerto Rican flag and Gay Pride flag on the same building

Every June, the flags come out in time for the parades. This June, near Maria Hernandez Park, a building was sporting a Puerto Rican flag on the second floor and a Gay Pride flag on the third floor.

5. When it’s the Gay Pride flag that’s still hanging there 7 months later.

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6. People lie about living here.

Walking home with a friend, we walked further than I expected. “This is Queens. You said you lived in Bushwick,” I accused. “Please don’t tell anyone,” he pleaded. I guess that blog he writes about Bushwick won’t feel that authentic if I let that secret out.

7. You’re inconvenienced by filming

Girls broke the cherry. Now, there are television and film crews and photographers taking over regularly. One day I almost crashed the car when five long, dark-haired, slim suit-wearing male models were being photographed standing in the middle of the street. And in September, my dog took particular interest in some fake snow.

8. People come to the neighborhood to be photographed in front of the graffiti.

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9. The corner grocery store changes:

  • There’s no longer a “white people aisle,” as the checkout girls used to call it. It’s now “organic.”

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  • They longer play Spanish music. Which I really miss and plan to protest! I hear “Call Me Maybe” enough already.

10. Taxis know where to go

When I first moved to Bushwick, cab drivers would sigh heavily when I piled into the back. First, that they had to go to Brooklyn and second that neighborhood. We’d always end up on Broadway, and thus lost. I live nowhere near Broadway (but that’s what Bushwick means to some people).

Now, cab drivers ask, “J train Bushwick or L train Bushwick?” click on the meter and off we go.

Backlash to the Hype

1. Scandal
Did I catch it too late? There’s no sex and Kerry Washington, dare I say, has been made asexual. The only scandals I see are her sporting those horrible politician-like pants suits and a regrettable weave. She’s a beautiful woman! At least put some red lipstick on her!

2. The food scene in Harlem
Actually everything about Harlem. Maybe like LA vs NY, you’re either a Brooklyn fan or a Harlem fan. There’s really no reason for me to venture beyond 62nd street, except for the museums.

3. Taylor Swift
She has made victimhood a sport. Even though I can’t think of anyone in Hollywood whose legs are open more often than hers, mom-jeans wearing women in fly-over states have proclaimed her a great role model for their little princesses. It doesn’t matter how many men can describe your vajayjay, as long as you have blond hair, buck teeth and sing country music, slut-shaming be damned, you are as virginal as pure snow. Nevermind that someone has peed on that snow.

4. Honey Boo Boo
Today, I was in Midtown and was given some of those enormous plastic glasses that are given out on New Year’s Eve. I assumed that they were 2013 glasses. No, they were NYE glasses with the words “Honey Boo Boo” on them. I was about to throw them away when an excited passerby begged me for them. Why is everyone talking about this child? She’s not even cute!

5. Rag & Bone jeans for women
Trust me, they make your ass look FLAT. Walk on by.

Greenpoint Brooklyn closes out the list, it’s just to hard to get to.